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Summertime Drinking

by James Joyner on 30 July 2009

summer drinks

Men tend to like heavy red wines, dark beers, and whiskey cocktails.  And, goodness knows, there’s nothing wrong with that.  But, with the thermometer over 90, it’s time to reach for cooler libations.


While I like stouts and pales ales as much as the next guy, wheat beers are perfect for summertime.

Sure, you could always emulate President Obama and have a Bud Light.  But if you want a beer that’s both light going down and yet actually tastes good, nothing beats wheat.  I’m particularly partial to Ayinger, Magic Hat’s Circus Boy, and Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat.  But there are plenty of good ones out there.   Shock Top, distributed by the makers of Michelob, is widely available. Widmer’s and Sam Adams hefeweizen.  Or, in a pinch, you can go with Blue Moon, a favorite of Obama’s drinking buddy, Sergeant James Crowley.


While I drink a lot of reds during the cooler months, especially pinots, shiraz, and zinfandel, they’re a little much in the heat.  (Although, if you’re going to be inside in the air conditioning the whole evening, knock yourself out).  All manner of whites and rosés are great for sipping out on the patio during the summer.

Because I grew up on them, I’m especially partial to German Rieslings and the various Qualitätswein such as Liebfraumilch and Spätlese, which can be served ice cold or even, if you’re into that sort of thing, with a splash of soda.  They may be a bit sweet for some but they’re quite refreshing in the heat.


For my taste, martinis are great year round.  I prefer mine classic, with gin and vermouth and a twist of lemon (hold the olives, though) but I’m not proud; I’ll drink a vodka martini, too.  But, as Christopher Hitchens explains, martinis are like breasts: one is too few and three is too many.  So it’s a starter drink, not something to drink all night.

Nothing beats a mojito for sustained summertime drinking.   See Matt Mahaffey’s Perfect Mojitos By the Pitcher recipe for an easy-to-remember, easy-to-prepare way to make them in bulk so you can spend your time drinking rather than mixing.

The Tom Collins — basically gin, lemonade, and soda — is another classic cocktail that’s perfect for summer.  You can drink these all afternoon without worry, presuming you’re not driving.  And there’s always the Mint Julep, which is essentially a mojito made with bourbon instead of rum.

My colleague Alex Knapp puts the Old Fashioned on the list, too, although I think they’re more appropriate during cooler weather.  Then again, he’s a bigger whiskey drinker than I am, generally.

Dessert Drinks

I’m not talking about girlie drinks with umbrellas in them although, in all candor, I won’t turn down a decent rum punch or mai tai.  Hell, I’ll even drink a piña colada if I’m on an island vacation somewhere.

But I digress.  I added this section mostly to extol the virtues of Limoncello, a delightful Italian liqueur that’s always in my freezer.  As you’d suspect, it’s lemon flavored and sweet.  And great after a summertime meal.  (Not all that bad during other seasons, either, truth be told, but they’re best when it’s hot out.)

German Eiswein, or any kind of “ice wine,” is also quite refreshing with your summertime desserts.   They’re somewhat expensive by volume but, frankly, you’ll only want a small glass of this.  It’ll keep for the next meal but, in the spirit of the season, crack open a bottle at a summer barbecue with some friends.

About James Joyner

James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway and the managing editor of a DC think tank. He's a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama.

{ 5 trackbacks }

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1 Triumph 30 July 2009 at 21:12

One of my summer favorites is the Income Tax.
2oz gin
1/4oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Juice from 1/2 an Orange
dash of bitters
I think its going to be the go-to drink of the Obama era.
p.s. J-Dawg, I really dig the layout of the new blog–are you using an off-the-shelf Joomla or WordPress theme?

2 James Joyner 30 July 2009 at 22:07

p.s. J-Dawg, I really dig the layout of the new blog–are you using an off-the-shelf Joomla or WordPress theme?

Thanks! It’s Chris Pearson’s Thesis theme with some heavy customization by Aaron Brazell

3 Ben 3 August 2009 at 15:10

James, for wheat beers, I highly recommend picking up Franziskaner if you ever see it in the liquor stores near you. It is pretty common up in Boston, not sure about DC. It is the best hefeweizen I’ve ever tried.

4 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 15:15


I’m pretty sure I’ve had the Franziskaner somewhere but it’s not common in these parts. I’ll keep an eye out for it in specialty stores.

5 jsallison 7 August 2009 at 19:53

Beer and wine just doesn’t get it done for me, generally. Your basic Gin and Tonic pretty much works for me in the summer. Though I use a pint glass with three shots of Gin, a splash of lime juice, a good handful of ice cubes, that’d be 8-10 for me, and top off with tonic water. Take it out to the veranda and spend the evening watching the natives be restless (or reading blogs, pretty much the same thing). Cuba Libre to the same proportions is okay, as well, though I prefer clear to dark rum. I think I’ve discovered a correlation to the clarity, or lack thereof of a libation and the morning aftereffects. My other go to’s are bourbon and coke, and rye or scotch, on the rocks or neat. Don’t like to waste valuable boozing time fiddling with mixes.

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